Goosebumps #2: Stay out of the Basement" was the second book in the Goosebumps franchise published, originally in 1992. It tells the story of two siblings confronted with a parent who is acting erratically and warns them to "Stay out of the basement!". Since this is only the second book, the formula that made Goosebumps popular was still being worked on. This story involved less outright violence than the previous book, "Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead House", but still was more violent than subsequent books.

Sibings Margaret and Casey Brewer have recently moved after their father lost his job. Their father, a botanist, has taken to spending a lot of time in the basement. When there mother leaves to take care of a sick relative, the two are left with a father who is acting increasingly erratic. When they break their father's rules and go down to the basement, they find a strange sight: plants that seem to be moving and even speaking. This is probably not a surprise to the reader, since the covers of the books (in its different editions) feature a plant/human monster...but of course, it is a surprise to the children. The book follows this through to its conclusion, which is a somewhat "happy ending"...although one with a twist.

One of the differences between this and the first book is that this book does not contain anything supernatural (although, of course, the science is a bit suspect), and the element of the eerie which was present in the first book is now absent. Although the distinction might be a fine one, this is more suspense than horror. But what this book did develop more than the first one is the idea of parental neglect---which is often an underlying theme in Goosebumps, dealt with as much as it is allowed to be addressed. It didn't seem much of a stretch to say that many of the behaviors of the father in this book, including being secretive, forbidding entrance to certain parts of the home, and even consuming things in secret, are pretty clear metaphors for some type of drug abuse. As much as could be communicated in a book of its nature, this book manages to capture the tension and fear of a house where a parent is abusing drugs (or something else) in secret.

Although the Goosebumps books are seen by some as being formulaic, I have been impressed so far that every book I have read has had a slightly different focus: some dealing with over-the-top supernatural menances, while others focusing more on the psychological aspects of fear.